How risky is investing in small high-tech companies? Even if you don't lose your shirt, you might lose your job. Consider Craig Fields, until early May head of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA had just made a $4-million cash-for-royalty-rights deal with Gazelle Microcircuits as the start of an exciting pilot project to assist companies with key technologies. But a government agency setting industrial policy was a little too exciting to Administration higher-ups -- Fields was given the choice of transfer or dismissal. (DARPA general counsel Richard Dunn says the pilot project will continue, and companies can apply to one of DARPA's 70 technology managers.)

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf